The bell of the “good school” is ringing in Italy for millions of children and adolescents who are called to make a commitment which is often reduced to a mere duty. I am told by the teachers who suffer from the malfunctioning of the school system that “pupils are much more demotivated at present than ten years ago” and that it has become almost impossible to obtain their concentration and interest. “During the classes, they are constantly reminded not to use mobile phones and the different ‘reproaches’ often prove to be vain”.
Verbal violence and total lack of respect are the most common way of handling this situation and, unfortunately, teachers feel frustrated because of their inability to bring up and educate their pupils in a proper way. On the other hand, we know how divided the opinion of their parents and teachers is. We know also that there is a kind of giving up on the formation of the person. The result is that pupils are abandoned; besides, some teachers have become indecent because they live the teaching experience without passion, with neurosis, sometimes they even appear ridiculous in the eyes of their pupils. While it it them who should listen to the boys and girls, it so happens that sometimes the latter have to sympathize with their teachers during their numerous moments of vent and depression. Teachers who are made fun of because of their vice of gambling, alcohol dependence, their being upset, petty politicians or speculators… one can observe all kind of cases!
Therefore, not only the walls of the school are decadent, but there is also a disturbing moral and cultural shabbiness set by the negligence of public education. As a result, pupils feel nothing but contempt and scorn is fed by their state of isolation and, sometimes even of shame for those who should represent a steady and credible point of reference.
Unfortunately, the school is often being reduced to an empty box, devoid of values and especially forgetful of the person’s significance beyond any school program. There are still people who believe that the competitive model is the most effective. The school of the profit bets everything on the importance of the results: who scores the best marks, gains the teacher’s appraisal, giving origin to a deceitful culture of individualism and solitude. The place of human encounter transforms, thus, into exclusion and marginalization.
A teaching approach based on the primacy and dignity of the human being is a completely different one. It assumes the leading role in discovering talents, regardless of the intellectual capacity of the pupils. The secret of true education can be achieved only through a genuine relation between the teacher and the pupil, so that the professor does not exercise the power over his pupils, but divides it with them, becoming authoritative without being authoritarian. This requires an attitude that goes against the mainstream; a return to the passion of teaching, that consists in sharing the journey of the pupils and becoming consistent life teachers rather than simple dispensers of information. The ability to appreciate differences and individual gifts are the true principle of a good school, very different from the one designed by the Italian politicians, exactly as a good orchestra director would be able to create a unique harmony by putting together many different instruments together. Those teachers who are truly good are loved and appreciated by their pupils because they transmit their commitment as a mission. The class is thus transformed into a true community of life where they search and research together, cooperating in a climate of mutual acceptance.
Even the most awkward or the so-called severely disabled person becomes a great gift, a resource and an opportunity for human and interior growth. In this context, families continue to be the primary educational institution, and therefore cannot be reduced to a simple customers of the school, but must be its first collaborators for a more effective education of the young generations. To sum up, it is a school, that should be rather different from the current standards…a utopia?